India has overtaken the US to become the second largest cotton producing country in the world, after China, a study by International Service For the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application(ISAAA) said. India, which was having one of the lowest cotton yields in the world, has become a net cotton exporter, potentially five million bales in 2007-08, the study said. Bt cton was a major factor contributing to higher rate of production from 15.8 million bales in 2001-02 to31millionbalesin2007-08,itsaid.

Total global acreage increases to 114.3 m hectares New Delhi, Feb. 18 India has the fifth largest area cultivated under genetically modified (GM) crops. According to worldwide data compiled by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the total acreage planted under all GM crops amounted to 114.3 million hectares (mh) in 2007. Of this, over half or 57.7 mh was accounted for by the US, followed by Argentina (19.1 mh), Brazil (15 mh), Canada (seven mh), and India (6.2 mh).

Genetically modified Bt Cotton acreage in the country rose 63 per cent to 6.2 million hectares in 2007, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications said in its latest global report. India's total cotton acreage stood at 9.4 million hectares in 2007. "India's Bt cotton story is remarkable,' ISAAA head Clive James said in a release. The global agency is engaged in the promotion of biotech crops. For the third consecutive year, the country experienced the highest rise in Bt cotton acreage in the world.

In a major breakthrough, scientists of the Pepper Research Station, Panniyur, have developed a new hybrid pepper variety that can resist the infamous foot-rot disease. Into the fourth year of its trial, the variety has also shown resistance to drought and erratic climate, KP Mammooty, head, Pepper Research Station said. Foot-rot disease is estimated to eat into 20-25% of the annual pepper production of the country and in some cases, farmers have stopped cultivating pepper after suffering economically from it, he said. The disease spreads rapidly and the damage is extensive. At present, no remedy exists for foot-rot disease in pepper, other than cutting and removing affected plants completely, he added. The new hybrid is developed by crossing the indigenous

The World Bank has expressed concerns over the slow progress in the development of transgenic food staples and called for the removal of related constraints. It said that the transgenics or the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have considerable potential for improving the productivity of smallholder farming systems and providing more nutritious foods to poor consumers in developing countries. "The environmental, food safety, and social risks of transgenics are controversial and therefore transparent and cost-effective regulatory systems that inspire public confidence are needed to evaluate risks and benefits case by case,' it admitted. In its World Development Report-2008, it noted, "While Bt cotton has been rapidly and successfully adopted in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, farmers in Andhra Pradesh initially experienced a loss, largely because of the use of poorly adapted varieties (hybrids).' In general, the report said that Indian farmers growing Bt cotton used less insecticides and gained significant yield increases. The report, with its theme - Agriculture for Development - made a strong plea for commercial cultivation of Golden Rice. It said that in India alone, 0.2 to 1.4 million life-years could be saved annually through widespread consumption of Golden Rice and this would be more cost-effective than the current supplementary programme for vitamin A. The World Bank said that while developing transgenics pro-poor traits and orphan crops have been neglected. Investments in R&D on transgenics are concentrated largely in the private sector, driven by commercial interests in industrial countries. The public sector spending on R&D is much lower than the $1.5 billion spent each year by the four largest private Companies. The report also noted the complexities of trade in transgenics. Exporters fear the loss of overseas Markets and of a "GMO-free' brand. It called for competence in managing and release and use of transgenics with open information disclosures, labelling (wherever feasible), and a consultative process, critical for harnessing public support.

on january 11, France decided to extend its October 2007 ban on a variety of gm maize. It decided to activate a European Union guideline that prohibits the cultivation of gm corn. The variety,

The Supreme Court today asked the central government to co-opt two eminent scientists in the 29-member Genetic Engineering Approval Committee while granting permission for open field trials for genetically modified food items. The Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan named Nobel prize winner and agriculturist MS Swaminathan and former vice-chairman of the Knowledge Commission, PM Bhargav. They shall be present at the meetings of the committee to add transparency to the proceedings.

Katrain, HP, Feb 11 A new hybrid cabbage seed, developed here at the regional station of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), may be released next month for commercial cultivation, which will boost production by up to 40%. "We have developed the cabbage seed here at temperate climate, which can give a yield of 35 tonne per hectare if grown at an optimum temperature level of 15-20 degree celsius,' head of the regional station SR Sharma told PTI. The current yield of normal cabbage seed is 20-25 tonne per hectare.

There are attempts to attribute everything good with cotton cultivation to GM cotton and on those grounds, bring in other GM crops.

Experience in scientific committees for the assessment of environmental and health risks of GMOs, and in biological, biostatistical research and medicine, allowed us to review and criticize mammalian feeding trials with GMOs, and make new proposals.

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